I'm very happy to announce that Rain Mountain Chinooks and Moonsong Chinooks have the first Chinook litter of 2013. The narrative below has been written along the course of Lolo's pregnancy and the life of the pups. Feel free to contact Rain Mountain Chinooks if you have any questions. We are NOT taking any additional inquiries for puppies from this litter but if you are interested in a future litter, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few years ago breeders who had moved to Canada realized they were overextended what with numerous Chinooks and Siberians to feed. The Chinook community stepped up and several of their dogs were brought south so their genes could be more easily added to those of the Chinooks here in the States. We still have so few dogs in our breeding population that every one of them is critical, especially if they are from a distinct population. One of those dogs was a female named Sparkle who went to live with Carie Taylor. Sparkle knew a good thing when she saw it and fell in love with her new life as a house dog, going to work with Carie everyday in her job as a trainer and behaviorist at the highly respected Academy of Canine Behavior. Sparkle also took a shine to Carie's boy Jiggles (Ch. Moonsong Mukilteo Bluejay) and next thing you know, Sparkle was a mom. One of her sons grew to become the very handsome young studmuffin, Moonsong Never Cry Wolf, known to his friends as Peter.
Well the 8 year old diva, Ch. BrownStone Lolo Kumtux of Rain met Peter and love was the word of the day. This was the chance for the well established Rain Mountain bloodline (which Lolo is, though her kennel name is BrownStone) to bring in some genes from Sparkle that haven't been used by other breeders for many generations. She and her relatives had been working draft dogs on a farm in Maine before the move to Manitoba and Peter showed promise with his initial pull training.
But since this was to be Lolo's last litter and Peter had no other litters to his credit to prove his abilities as a sire, modern science was added to the mix. With DNA profiling now only costing us $50 per dog or less, we were able to also breed Lolo to Peter's sire, Jiggles. This way we knew we would not miss the window for Lolo's last litter. We will either get pups that are all from Peter, all from Jiggles (who also sired Lolo's Solstice Litter so we know that he does an excellent job), or they might be half and half. In the latter case, we can register them as if they are two distinct litters. We do this by comparing the DNA of each pup to the DNA of Peter, Jiggles, and Lolo as soon as they are born. Within weeks we'll know who is the father of which pups. You can see a pedigree for both versions, whether Peter is the sire or Jiggles is the sire by following this link.
There is no rhyme or reason to the themes and names for the litters. The only thing I do know is that I do NOT give them rowdy names. I'm convinced that if I give them names like Killer, Chomper, and Lucifer, they will turn out to be wild and crazy pups. Hence you see things like the Zen Litter, the Solstice Litter, and the Serenity Litter. The only one that really veered close to the wild side was the Oh No! Litter, which everyone knew was really an Oh Sh**! Litter. That was the one that Lolo decided on all by herself, completely without consulting me. I had planned to sell my house in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland during the housing boom so I could buy a place a bit further out. Thanks to her surprise litter of pups, sired by Baby Daddy Taga, I had to put off my move plans for about six months and ended up moving WAY OUT to the country. Now I know it was for the best since I have my own "100 Acre Wood," (though it's really just shy of six). Oh and those Oh Sh** pups? Well one of them just won National Best of Breed at the 2012 UKC Chinook National Specialty. So maybe Lolo knew what she was doing after all.
Anyway, obviously you can expect baby names that will follow the Pooh and A.A. Milne theme. These are only the baby names since all Rain Mountain dogs go on to have registered names that are Northwest Native American in origin. This litter are going to be tribes of Western Washington. Hard to believe but no, I have not yet used them all.
We use the old fashioned method of confirming pregnancy by having my vet, Dr. Dan Frey of Woodinville Animal Hospital, palpate Lolo's tummy around Day 28 of her pregnancy. I have been practicing and was pretty sure that she was pregnant but I still like to have Dan confirm for me. My skills are sort of 'go / no-go' where he's better at telling me if he thinks it's going to be a small, medium or large litter. Sure, I could get more exact with ultrasound but why? This is her third litter so I didn't feel the need to know any additional information. If it were her first litter I would do an x-ray to compare the size of the puppies' heads to the pelvic opening and get an idea of their size but I already know that Lolo has easy deliveries so that wasn't necessary either.
The only complication of Lolo's complication was that she injured her rear right leg and couldn't put weight on it and also had a come and go problem with her front right leg. I hate to say it but it was her own fault. She started a spat with Salishan (who really would prefer to ignore the fact that Lolo even exists) and Shani then whopped her butt. I think Lolo's rear leg got hurt when I was slamming the door between them to end the argument. So she spent the second half of her pregnancy in a deluxe maternity suite that was actually a monster size dog crate that would have easily fit a couple Saint Bernards or Great Danes. I padded it with a few comforters, set it up in the middle of the main part of the house so she never felt left out of anything, then convinced her it was her throne. Like a true diva, she fell for it and took possession. The trick was that I wouldn't let any dog except Lolo go near it. So with bed rest, her hind leg got better and eventually I didn't have to carry her up and down the two steps in and out of the house, though she continues to limp a bit. Once she weans the pups, I'll get her to the chiropractor since we can't find any sore spots anywhere in the foot, leg, or hip so my current thought is that it must be a nerve pinched in her spine.
Typical gestation for dogs is ABOUT 63 days. However, Lolo was bred over a three-day period and she probably ovulated a day or so after she was bred so the trick is knowing when to start the clock ticking. I've had my girls go into labor as early as Day 60 from the first breeding and have very fat and healthy pups or as late as Day 63 from the last breeding and have pups that are equally developed to the ones born on day 60. So you just don't know. Lolo's earlier litters had been born about Day 61 or 62 so I thought she would do that again but no, not this time. This time she kept me awake for several nights watching her, sure that her contractions would start any minute. She was in a pre-labor trance like state that's pretty common from Saturday evening until she finally went into serious labor in the early hours of Wednesday.
By early afternoon, we had five healthy and vigorous pups. Lolo was prone to having boys, what with six in her first litter and two boys and one girl in her second. I know, it's the male who is responsible for the gender of the babies but Lolo sure has a track record for boys. She makes great ones, don't get me wrong but since I was going to retire Lolo, I was hoping to have a couple girls to choose from and maybe keep one for myself.
The first five pups: Kanga, Pooh Bear, Christopher, Owl, & Tigger
Happy Lolo with the first five pups
(Sorry but giving birth is messy & involves a lot of body fluids)
Even with five pups comfortably nursing, Lolo was still agitated between short naps. So after a few hours I called my vet at home, something I'm careful not to do unless it's really necessary. He agreed with me that it was time for an oxytocin shot. I learned to give my pets shots long ago, first with my Persian cat, so giving Lolo a quick shot of oxytocin (the vet sends two home with me just prior to every litter's arrival) wasn't difficult. It wasn't long until another boy pup, Robin, arrived. Lolo was a very happy mom and ready for a snack and long nap. In fact, it took me eighteen hours before I could convince her to leave the whelping box long enough to go to the bathroom. During that time I was taking her food and drinks in bed so she wouldn't get dehydrated.
Finally labor was done and we could all start to settle in with the new arrivals. The first couple days with the babies are always tense for me. I've had too much experience with litters in the past where things went wrong even though I know that Lolo is an excellent mom dog. I never relax until we get past the first three weeks. Until then I worry about fading puppies that can get chilled and weaken until even the best of care can't revive them, or, the worst experience I've ever had, having a herpes virus wipe out a whole litter of 2½ week old pups, which happened in 2001. So for the first couple nights I set up a cot and sleep near Lolo so she can let me know if she needs anything or I can check on them if I hear a pup in distress. Somehow, even with my impaired hearing, the sound of a puppy crying will wake me instantly even from the most sound sleep and Lolo never hesitates to wake me up. Luckily though, other than a few potty trips outside, the nights were calm and by the weekend I was back in my own bed. I won't say I was really catching up on sleep quite yet though since I set an alarm to check on Lolo halfway through the night. With the hours I keep, that can be almost dawn and sometimes I don't get back to sleep after. Having puppies in the house is not conducive to getting a lot of sleep.
Why does it seem that pups are always born when things are going crazy in some way, shape, or form? We're either in the middle of a blizzard (the 1996 Snowflake Litter), horribly hot temperatures (the 1996 Heatwaves, 2003 Repeats, or the 2009 Solstice Litter), or perhaps in the midst of record breaking storms (the Flood Litter, my very first litter of Chinooks, or the Freeway Litter in 1992 (Seattle's famous Inauguration Day storm). With the Serenity Litter I ended up in the hospital for a week and the pups spent the time living at their dad's house. So far life for this litter has been calm other than the exceptionally cold temperatures and the fact that I've been horribly busy at work to the point that it took me a couple days to tell more than a few close friends that they had even arrived. It took me four days to get around to taking individual photos of them.
As much as I love raising puppies, I must admit that the first two weeks, they are simply potatoes. They sleep, eat, and twitch and are amazingly good at getting around without being able to walk. But they are not the most fascinating creatures. Calming, yes. Watching a litter of newborn pups sleep is one of the most calming things I can think of. It drops my blood pressure by ten points in a matter of mere minutes. The real fun starts when the eyes open and they get their legs under their fat little bellies and start staggering around.
Enjoy the first photos of the gang from the 100 Acre Wood Litter.
Copyright © Ginger Corley, Rain Mountain Chinooks, 1988 to present. No material may be reproduced without permission, though permission is usually granted. Logo by Susan Fletcher, Frontier Chinooks, used here with permission and much appreciation of her great talent.